What is a Trade Fair?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Also known as a trade show, a trade fair is a gathering organized to allow businesses within a specific industry to set up displays and demonstrations of their products and services. Fairs of this type are often held on an annual or semiannual basis, and are sometimes open to the public. Trade shows often feature special events for the exhibitors, such as seminars led by prominent individuals within that industry.

Businessman giving a thumbs-up
Businessman giving a thumbs-up

A basic structure for a trade fair involves the leasing of space in a convention center where each participating company can set up what is known as an trade fair booth. The space is then divided into a number of square or rectangular grids that are reserved by participants to set up their displays. Often, a single company can reserve one or more of these squares, depending on the size of the exhibit they wish to create.

As part of the leasing agreement, the trade fair organizers will arrange for such basics as simple draperies that provide backdrops for each designated exhibit space, and a power source for any electronic equipment the participants may desire. A rectangular table and a couple of chairs are usually included, although this is not always the case. Exhibitors are free to make use of these resources or bring along their own trade booth equipment to create a more customized exhibition.

Depending on the nature of the trade fair, attendance may be open to anyone or restricted to registered visitors and participants only. Trade fairs associated with the telecommunications industry are often open to the public, allowing potential customers to review the offerings of various communications services and possibly establish contacts that can be pursued later. Other shows are considered to be trade only, which means they are closed to the general public. This is often true with any trade show or exhibition that is focused on selling directly to registered conference attendees only, such as a fair built around the hospitality industry or the banking industry.

While a traditional trade fair takes place at a physical location, the concept of a virtual fair has gained some popularity in recent years. Using online resources, registered guests can access a web site established for the event, and take a virtual tour of all the online exhibitions created by the participating vendors. A virtual fair has several advantages, including the ability to utilize the latest Internet technology to create interesting presentations. Other benefits include the low cost of setup and the lack of any travel costs to attend the trade fair.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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One of the best trade fairs you can go to is a travel fair. It's the best place to get cheap travel packages and they often have freebies and competitions there as well.

I went to one while I was visiting London with my sister and she picked up a really nice holiday to Croatia with her friends for something like 50% off and they threw in some extra meals and things on top of that.

It's so much cheaper because the people are willing to negotiate. And they have great presentations there as well, which I found really interesting.

I think that people in the travel industry also use those shows to network with each other, or to pass packages through middlemen but I'm not sure how that works.


@Fa5t3r - Actually farming based trade fairs can be quite interesting as well, particularly if they are aimed towards the public as well as the farmers. They tend to get set up like a traditional carnival, with rides and stock exhibits as well as the more serious areas where tractors and things like that are on display.

Many trade fairs realize that people see them as a chance to bring out the family and socialize with other people in the same business, so all kinds of vendors will get into the act and it can be quite fascinating. Also, it's in their interest to make things interesting to attract attention, so that helps as well.


These can be really fun if you go to the right type. Particularly an international trade fair. I can remember going to them when I was a kid with my father and they are just chock full of all kinds of different new inventions and things like that.

I mean, I guess it depends on what kind of trade fair it is, because if it was, say, a meeting of sheep farmers or something, it might not be that interesting. But food or flowers or jewelry or anything like that and I'm right there.

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